[Date Prev][Date Next][Date Index]

GLIN==> mercury switches in motor vehicles

[Federal Register: October 5, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 193)]
[Rules and Regulations]              
[Page 56903-56911]
 From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]


40 CFR Parts 9 and 721
[EPA-HQ-OPPT-2005-0036; FRL-8110-5]
RIN 2070-AJ19

Mercury Switches in Motor Vehicles; Significant New Use Rule

AGENCY: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
ACTION: Final rule.


SUMMARY: EPA is promulgating this significant new use rule (SNUR) under
section 5(a)(2) of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) for
elemental mercury (CAS No. 7439-97-6) used in certain convenience light
switches, anti-lock braking system (ABS) switches, and active ride
control system switches. This action will amend 40 CFR part 721 and
require persons who intend to manufacture (defined by statute to
include import) or process elemental mercury for a use designated by
this rule as a significant new use to notify EPA at least 90 days
before commencing the manufacturing or processing of the chemical
substance for such significant new use. The required notification will
provide EPA with the opportunity to evaluate the intended use and, if
necessary, to prohibit or limit that activity before it occurs. In
addition, in order to display the OMB control number for the
information collection requirements contained in this final rule, EPA
is amending the table of Office of Management and Budget (OMB) approval
numbers for EPA regulations that appears in 40 CFR part 9.

DATES: This final rule is effective November 5, 2007.

ADDRESSES: EPA has established a docket for this action under docket
identification (ID) number EPA-HQ-OPPT-2005-0036. All documents in the
docket are listed in the docket index available in regulations.gov. To
access the electronic docket, go to <A HREF="http://www.regulations.gov";>http://www.regulations.gov</A>, select
``Advanced Search,'' then ``Docket Search.'' Insert the docket ID
number where indicated and select the ``Submit'' button. Follow the
instructions on the regulations.gov website to view the docket index or
access available documents. Although listed in the index, some
information is not publicly available, e.g., Confidential Business
Information (CBI) or other information whose disclosure is restricted
by statute. Certain other material, such as copyrighted material, will
be publicly available only in hard copy. Publicly available docket
materials are available electronically at <A HREF="http://www.regulations.gov";>http://www.regulations.gov</A>,
or, if only available in hard copy, at the OPPT Docket. The OPPT Docket
is located in the EPA Docket Center (EPA/DC) at Rm. 3334, EPA West
Bldg., 1301 Constitution Ave., NW., Washington, DC. The EPA/DC Public
Reading Room hours of operation are 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday
through Friday, excluding Federal holidays. The telephone number of the
EPA/DC Public Reading Room is (202) 566-1744, and the telephone number
for the OPPT Docket is (202) 566-0280. Docket visitors are required to
show photographic identification, pass through a metal detector, and
sign the EPA visitor log. All visitor bags are processed through an X-
ray machine and subject to search. Visitors will be provided an EPA/DC
badge that must be visible at all times in the building and returned
upon departure.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For general information contact: Colby
Lintner, Regulatory Coordinator, Environmental Assistance Division
(7408M), Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics, Environmental
Protection Agency, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave., NW., Washington, DC 20460-
0001; telephone number: (202) 554-1404; e-mail address: <A HREF="mailto:

    For technical information contact: Thomas Groeneveld, National
Program Chemicals Division (7404T), Office of Pollution Prevention and
Toxics, Environmental Protection Agency, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave., NW.,
Washington, DC 20460-0001; telephone number: (202) 566-1188; e-mail
address: <A HREF="mailto:groeneveld.thomas@epa.gov";>groeneveld.thomas@epa.gov</A>.


I. Does this Action Apply to Me?

    You may be potentially affected by this action if you manufacture
or process elemental mercury for use in certain motor vehicle
convenience light switches, ABS switches, and active ride control
system switches. This action may also affect certain entities through
pre-existing import certification and export notification rules under
TSCA. Persons who import any chemical substance subject to TSCA must
comply with the TSCA section 13 (15 U.S.C. 2612) import certification
requirements and corresponding regulations codified at 19 CFR 12.118 to
12.127 and 127.28. Such persons must certify that each shipment of the
chemical substance complies with applicable rules and orders under
TSCA, including any SNUR requirements. The EPA policy in support of
import certification appears at 40 CFR part 707, subpart B. In
addition, TSCA section 12(b) (15 U.S.C. 2611(b)) export notification
requirements are triggered by publication of a proposed SNUR.
Therefore, any persons who export, intend to export, or have exported
elemental mercury on or after August 10, 2006, are subject to the
export notification provisions of TSCA section 12(b) (see 40 CFR
721.20). Such persons must comply with the export notification
requirements in 40 CFR part 707, subpart D. Potentially affected

[[Page 56904]]

entities may include, but are not limited to:
    ? Manufacturers and processors of motor vehicle electrical
switches (NAICS code 335931), e.g., manufacturers and processors of
mercury switches in convenience lights, ABS acceleration sensors, and
active ride control sensors.
    ? Manufacturers and processors of transportation equipment
(NAICS code 336), e.g., manufacturers of motor vehicles and motor
vehicle parts containing mercury switches.
    ? Motor vehicle repair and maintenance facilities (NAICS
code 8111), e.g., motor vehicle mechanics who replace or install new
elemental mercury switches as part of vehicle repair and maintenance.
    ? Motor vehicle part (used) wholesalers (NAICS code 4211),
e.g., motor vehicle dismantlers who dismantle motor vehicles and sell
used parts.
    This listing is not intended to be exhaustive, but rather provides
a guide for readers regarding entities likely to be affected by this
action. Other types of entities not listed in this unit could also be
affected. The North American Industrial Classification System (NAICS)
codes have been provided to assist you and others in determining
whether this action might apply to certain entities. To determine
whether you or your business may be affected by this action, you should
carefully examine the applicability provisions in 40 CFR 721.5 for
SNUR-related obligations. If you have any questions regarding the
applicability of this action to a particular entity, consult the
technical person listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT.

II. Background

A. What Action is the Agency Taking?

    EPA proposed this SNUR for elemental mercury used in certain
convenience light switches, ABS switches, and active ride control
system switches on July 11, 2006 (71 FR 39035) (FRL-7733-9). EPA's
responses to public comments received on the proposed rule are in Unit
III.D. Please consult the July 11, 2006 Federal Register document for
further background information for this final rule.
    This SNUR will require persons to notify EPA at least 90 days
before commencing the manufacture, import, or processing of elemental
mercury for the uses described in Unit III.B. and 40 CFR
721.10068(b)(2) of the regulatory text for this final rule (including
use in certain convenience light switches, ABS switches, and active
ride control switches in motor vehicles, including when elemental
mercury is imported or processed as part of an article). EPA defines
``motor vehicle'' for this SNUR by referencing the definition used in
the emissions control regulations developed under the Clean Air Act
(see 40 CFR 85.1703). As described in Unit III.A., EPA believes this
action is necessary because manufacturing, processing, use, or disposal
of elemental mercury in these switches may produce significant changes
in human and environmental exposures to elemental mercury and

B. What is the Agency's Authority for Taking this Action?

    Section 5(a)(2) of TSCA (15 U.S.C. 2604(a)(2)) authorizes EPA to
determine that a use of a chemical substance is a ``significant new
use.'' EPA must make this determination by rule after considering all
relevant factors, including those listed in TSCA section 5(a)(2). Once
EPA determines that a use of a chemical substance is a significant new
use, TSCA section 5(a)(1)(B) (15 U.S.C. 2604(a)(1)(B)), requires
persons to submit a significant new use notification (SNUN) to EPA at
least 90 days before they manufacture, import, or process the chemical
substance for that use. The mechanism for reporting under this
requirement is established under 40 CFR 721.25.

C. Applicability of General Provisions

    General provisions for SNURs appear in 40 CFR part 721, subpart A.
These provisions describe persons subject to the rule, recordkeeping
requirements, exemptions to reporting requirements, and applicability
of the rule to uses occurring before the effective date of the final
rule. However, 40 CFR 721.45(f) does not apply to this SNUR. As a
result, persons subject to the provisions of this rule are not exempt
from significant new use reporting if they import or process elemental
mercury as part of an article (see 40 CFR 721.5). Conversely, the
exemption from notification requirements for exported articles (see 40
CFR 707.60(b)), remains in force. Thus, persons who export elemental
mercury as part of an article are not required to provide export
    Provisions relating to user fees appear at 40 CFR part 700. Persons
subject to this SNUR must comply with the same notice requirements and
EPA regulatory procedures as submitters of Premanufacture Notices
(PMNs) under TSCA section 5(a)(1)(A). In particular, these requirements
include the information submission requirements of TSCA sections 5(b)
and 5(d)(1), the exemptions authorized by TSCA sections 5(h)(1),
(h)(2), (h)(3), and (h)(5), and the regulations at 40 CFR part 720.
Once EPA receives a SNUN, EPA may take regulatory action under TSCA
sections 5(e), 5(f), 6, or 7 to control the activities for which the
SNUN was submitted. If EPA does not take action, EPA is required under
TSCA section 5(g) to explain in the Federal Register its reasons for
not taking action.
    Persons who export or intend to export a chemical substance
identified in a proposed or final SNUR are subject to the export
notification provisions of TSCA section 12(b). The regulations under
TSCA section 12(b) appear at 40 CFR part 707, subpart D. The EPA policy
in support of import certification appears at 40 CFR part 707, subpart
B. Persons who import a chemical substance identified in a final SNUR
are subject to the import certification requirements under TSCA section
13, which appear at 19 CFR 12.118 to 12.127 and 127.28. Such persons
must certify that the shipment of the chemical substance complies with
all applicable rules and orders under TSCA, including any SNUR

III. Objectives and Rationale of the Final Rule

A. Overview

    This rule applies to elemental mercury (CAS No. 7439-97-6), which
is a naturally occurring element. Because of its unique properties
(e.g., exists as a liquid at room temperature and forms amalgams with
many metals), elemental mercury has been used in many industrial
processes and consumer products. Mercury switches exploit the ability
of small quantities of elemental mercury to conduct electricity and
remain one of the largest categories of elemental mercury product uses.
In addition to its useful characteristics, mercury also may cause
adverse health effects in humans and wildlife. These effects can vary
depending on the form of mercury to which a person is exposed, as well
as the magnitude, length, and frequency of exposure.
    The most prevalent human and wildlife exposure to mercury results
from ingesting fish contaminated with methylmercury. Methylmercury is
an organic compound that is formed via the conversion of elemental or
inorganic mercury by certain microorganisms and other natural
processes. For example, elemental mercury may evaporate and be emitted
into the atmosphere. Atmospheric mercury can be deposited directly into
water bodies or watersheds, where it can be washed into

[[Page 56905]]

surface waters via overland run-off. Once deposited in sediments,
certain microorganisms and other natural processes can convert
elemental mercury into methylmercury. Methylmercury bioaccumulates,
which means that it is taken up and concentrated in the tissues of
aquatic, mammalian, avian, and other wildlife. Methylmercury is a
highly toxic substance; a number of adverse health effects associated
with exposure to it have been identified in humans and in animal
studies. Most extensive are the data on neurotoxicity, particularly in
developing organisms. Fetuses, infants, and young children generally
are more sensitive to methylmercury's neurological effects than adults.
    By 2005, all fifty states had created fish-advisory programs.
Through the end of 2004, forty-eight states, one territory, and two
Indian tribes issued fish consumption advisories recommending that some
people limit their consumption of fish from certain water bodies known
to be contaminated by methylmercury. Also in 2004, EPA and the Food and
Drug Administration (FDA) jointly issued a national advisory providing
advice to women of childbearing age and young children on mercury in
fish and shellfish. The advisory stated that some fish and shellfish
contain higher levels of mercury that may harm a fetus or the
developing nervous system of a young child. As of today, the
information in the 2004 EPA/FDA advisory remains current.
    Mercury switches were used for many years in motor vehicles in hood
and trunk convenience lights, ABS, and active ride control systems.
More than 200 million mercury switches were installed in motor vehicles
from 1974 to 2000. In the United States, motor vehicles that reach the
end of their useful life are often dismantled so that the useful parts
can be reused and steel and other materials can be recycled. The steel
industry recycles approximately 12 to 14 million end-of-life vehicles
each year. During the recycling process, vehicles are dismantled,
crushed, and shredded. Vehicle scrap is then separated into the
ferrous, nonferrous, and motor vehicle shredder residue fractions. All
of these fractions can be contaminated with elemental mercury, which
can be released when switches are ruptured during processing. Steel
fractions are sent to electric arc furnaces (EAFs) and other scrap
consumers to be melted and refined for use in other steel products. The
EAF process uses intense heat, which can vaporize and emit elemental
mercury into the atmosphere. Motor vehicles are believed to be the
largest single source of elemental mercury in EAF emissions. The EPA
air toxics program has identified EAFs as a priority sector.
    In response to increased concerns about exposure to anthropogenic
sources of elemental mercury and the availability of suitable mercury-
free products, Federal and State governments have made efforts to limit
the use of elemental mercury in certain products. American automakers
voluntarily eliminated the use of mercury switches in motor vehicles as
of January 1, 2003. Foreign motor vehicle manufacturers eliminated the
use of mercury switches in the 1990s. Over the next 20 years, it is
anticipated that most of the motor vehicles containing mercury switches
will reach the end of their useful lives, will be recycled, and
ultimately will pass through EAFs and other scrap consumer facilities.
Many States and non-governmental organizations have taken actions to
remove or to encourage the removal of mercury switches from motor
vehicles before they are recycled. For these reasons, the potential for
elemental mercury emissions to be released during scrap consumption is
expected to decrease as fewer motor vehicles containing mercury
switches remain to be dismantled or recycled.
    While newly manufactured motor vehicles no longer contain mercury
switches, certain switches are still available as aftermarket
replacement parts. Mercury switches generally last the lifetime of the
motor vehicle; however, switch replacement is required if a collision
or another action damages the component containing the switch or the
switch itself. Mercury switches are no longer used for replacement in
hood and trunk convenience lights because mercury-free substitutes are
readily available. However, no mercury-free alternative exists for mid-
life replacement of ABS and active ride control system switches and a
limited number of such switches remain available as replacement parts
for pre-2003 motor vehicles. EPA believes that the demand for mercury
switches as aftermarket replacement parts is currently low and likely
will become negligible when most pre-2003 motor vehicles containing
mercury switches in ABS and active ride control systems reach the end
of their useful lives. EPA is excluding from this final SNUR mercury
switches manufactured as aftermarket replacement parts for ABS and
active ride control systems in vehicles manufactured before January 1,
    For a more detailed summary of background information (e.g.,
chemistry, environmental fate, exposure pathways, health and
environmental effects, and use information), as well as references
pertaining to elemental mercury that EPA considered before promulgating
this final rule, please refer to the proposed rule as issued in Federal
Register of July 11, 2006 (71 FR 39035) or the docket for this action
under docket ID number EPA-HQ-OPPT-2005-0036. All documents in the
docket are listed in the docket's index available at <A HREF="http://www.regulations.gov";>http://www.regulations.gov</A>


Alex J. Sagady & Associates        http://www.sagady.com

Environmental Enforcement, Permit/Technical Review, Public Policy, 
Expert Witness Review and Litigation Investigation on Air, Water and 
Waste/Community Environmental and Resource Protection
Prospectus at:  http://www.sagady.com/sagady.pdf 

657 Spartan Avenue,  East Lansing, MI  48823  
(517) 332-6971; (517) 332-8987 (fax); ajs@sagady.com

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
glin-announce is hosted by the Great Lakes Information Network (GLIN):

To subscribe: http://www.glin.net/forms/glin-announce_form.html

To post a message: http://www.glin.net/forms/glin-announce_post.html

To search the archive: http://www.glin.net/lists/glin-announce/

All views and opinions presented above are solely those of the author or
attributed source and do not necessarily reflect those of GLIN or its
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *